Confidence is a common issue for many of the leaders and professionals I coach. Whether it is confidence around asking for a promotion, confidence in having the difficult conversation or confidence in delivering on a new project. This perceived lack of confidence is hampering their performance and increasing their level of stress.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Anonymous
Being confident is a lot like being comfortable. You know the rules; you know how to act, how it will happen and when it will happen. You are confident that if you do X you will obtain Y. This is great and all but how did you get here? How did you get comfortable? How did you become confident?
As we get older and our beliefs and behaviors become engrained, our ability and memory of how to create our own confidence in new situations can slowly be lost. When people ask about gaining confidence, they often forget they know exactly how to do it, because in order to be comfortable where they are today they already followed the steps many times.
The 5 steps to gain confidence:
- Take a risk
- Let go of success or failure
- Be open to the learning
If gaining confidence were as easy as following the steps outlined above, then why is it so hard to come by at times?
The fear of the unknown
Taking a risk and stepping out into the unknown catches and holds us back from gaining confidence. What will happen? What if I fail? What if I succeed? Instead of moving forward and trying, we get stuck in “what if” paralysis. We are really good at getting in our own way and blocking ourselves from gaining confidence. We can stay blocked for a very long time; all the while the simple act of trying or taking a risk is all it will take to start the journey of gaining confidence.
So how do you move out of “what if’ paralysis? How do you get the courage and guts to get uncomfortable?
I think I reference breathing and pausing in about half of my posts and for good reason. Focusing on your breath and creating the pause in your fear thinking is where it starts. The space created by pausing gives you the mental break to step outside of your “what if” thoughts long enough to engage your higher rational brain (your courage center). With your rational brain running the show for a few moments and with your limiting thoughts on hold, act!
Take the moment you have created for yourself and take action. Take the risk! Let the rest of the process flow. Practice. Be open to learn and let go of how good or how bad you are and the confidence will come. Go out today and build confidence in whatever you do, move out of your comfort zone.
As a leader, your ability to learn the pause is crucial in building your confidence. With greater confidence, comes less stress, improved performance and a team that believes in you and your ability to lead effectively.
Image courtesy: No Lands Too Foreign